July 26, 2012

QuiltCon block #1

After reading about the QuiltCon Block Challenge, I decided to try and make 3 blocks to send in before the August 15 deadline.  I know there's no way one of my blocks will make it into Elizabeth Hartman's favorite 20 (I mean have you seen some of the blocks?), but all the remaining blocks will be used to make quilts for Austin Children's Shelter.  How awesome is that?  So after choosing some appropriate fabric from my stash

I cut and sewed a disappearing nine patch panel and framed it with white borders.
A little busy, but not bad.  At least most of my points are matched up.  Now off to plan block #2!

July 25, 2012

wip Wednesday

In my web surfing this week I found a great tutorial for a quilt-as-you-go patchwork bag.  My scrap basket is overflowing and I need a little tote for my kindle fire so I figured this was the perfect opportunity to try something new and hopefully end up with something useful.  My first piece of patchwork which will be one side of the bag:

It's a little too big.

I've found something else that is completely addicting!  And now I'll have to start saving even smaller scraps because even a little one inch square can be the foundation for a block.

Last night I attended the inaugural meeting of the The Omaha Modern Quilt Guild.  I probably didn't make a great first impression as I arrived 15 minutes late--and I'm never late to anything!  I did something very uncharacteristic and signed up to be on the executive board/steering committee.  I cannot tell you how excited I am to help build this Guild.  Today I was perusing The Modern Quilt Guild's website and read about the QuiltCon Block Challenge.  I went through my stash and found some fabrics that I think go with the required color scheme.
I think I'll try some kind of variation on a disappearing nine patch using 2.5 inch squares.  And just the idea of Elizabeth Hartman seeing a quilt block I made makes me happy!

July 21, 2012

modern designer charm swap

If you love modern fabric (Amy Butler, Denyse Schmidt, Kate Spain, Tula Pink, etc.), come join the Modern Designer Charm Swap on flickr!  Signs ups are here.  If you're not interested but think your followers might be, please feel free to share about the swap on your blog.

July 10, 2012

t-shirt makeover {a tutorial}

Over a year ago, I posted about my Goodwill t-shirt makeover. It's one of my more popular posts so today I'm going to share a tutorial about how to use a little elastic thread to turn this basic t-shirt:

into this shirred top:

If you haven't used elastic thread before, this stuff is amazing. You can usually find it hanging with the packaged elastics at your fabric store. Using elastic thread in the bobbin, just sew a few rows of stitching and you'll get instant gathers. Amazing!

t-shirt (one or two sizes bigger than you normally wear)
thread that matches your t-shirt
elastic thread
empty bobbin
ball point needle
sewing machine
rotary cutter and ruler (optional)
plate (or some other circle shape to trace)

I found my t-shirt in the men's section at Goodwill--99 cents for a super-soft Banana Republic t-shirt.It's a medium and I normally wear an XS or small.


1)  Lay out your t-shirt and devise your game plan. I am going to add elastic at the end of the sleeves, at the bottom of the shirt, and around the neck so the first step is to cut the hems off the sleeves and the bottom of the shirt. This is easiest with a ruler and rotary cutter, or you can draw a chalk line and cut with scissors. Knit won't fray so there's no need to finish the raw edges and the fabric will gather better without the added bulk of the hem.

1)  Using a plate as a guide, cut a scoop neck. (For size reference, I used a dinner plate.) I cut through both layers of fabric so it will be scooped in the front and back. If you have a rotary cutter, you can cut right along the plate. Otherwise, trace a line around the plate and cut with scissors.

3) Prepare your bobbin and sewing machine. Loosely hand wind a bobbin with elastic thread being careful not to stretch the thread as you wind. Insert the bobbin into your sewing machine as you normally would.  Increase your stitch length--I used a stitch length of 4. Make sure you have a ball point needle in your machine. Because each sewing machine is different, I highly recommend practicing on a scrap of knit fabric to make sure your tension/stitch length is correct and to get familiar with sewing with elastic thread.

4)  Start at the bottom of your shirt and line up the edge of your presser foot with the raw edge of shirt.  (Make sure your are sewing with the right side up so the elastic thread (bobbin) will be on the wrong side.) I start at one of the side seams and sew a row around the bottom of the shirt running the edge of the presser foot along the raw edge of the shirt.

After sewing for a little bit, you'll notice a beautifully-shirred edge is already starting to form behind your machine.

5)  Continue making rows of stitching by lining up the edge of the presser foot with the previous row of stitching.  For the second and subsequent rows, your fabric will already be gathered.  

Be sure to gently pull the fabric flat before it goes under the presser foot.  

I made 3 rows of stitching on the bottom of the shirt.

6)  Repeat for each sleeve. I made 2 rows of stitching on each sleeve. (Because the sleeves are narrow, make sure to keep the extra fabric out of the way so it doesn't get caught under the presser foot and you end up sewing both layers together.)

7)  Repeat on the neck. I made 2 rows of stitching.

8)  Gently iron the elastic using a little steam to shrink it even more.

9)  Pull all the threads to the wrong side and knot them with the elastic thread. This takes awhile but will secure the elastic so it doesn't pull out. Backstitching is much faster but mine always seems to come undone.  Trim threads and you're done!

I made this in the morning and wore it work that same afternoon. So I do actually wear my crazy creations out in public.

I like how it turned out, but I'll do a few things differently on my next shirt. When I was cutting off the bottom hem, I cut off some extra length because I didn't want my shirt to be too long. I forgot the adding elastic around the bottom and neck would take up some of the length so my shirt is slightly short for my taste and I ended up wearing a tank top under it. I think I'll also try a long-sleeved shirt and make a 3/4 sleeve or one that ends just above the elbow. The monetary investment is pretty low, so it doesn't hurt to experiment!

Please let me know if you have any questions or if something is unclear.  If you make a shirt, I'd love to see it!

July 7, 2012

completed stacked coins quilt

My friends baby shower is this morning and I was able to get her baby quilt finished up on Thursday.  I love how it turned out.
To me it has a modern look to it--very different from the quilts I usually make.  Mom and dad aren't finding out the baby's gender and the nursery is gray and yellow.  The gray polka dot fabrics are all Michael Miller (Dumb Dot Haze, Quarter Dot Gray, and Stone Ta Dot).  I had trouble finding a pale yellow polka dot--everything looked like a school bus--so I bought that at JoAnn's.  The quilt washed up beautifully even with the mix of designer/JoAnn's fabric.  The sashing is maybe Kona snow?  I get my white Konas mixed up as I usually can't tell the difference.
The back is Kona coal (my absolute favorite Kona) and I added a contrasting strip across the back to make it more interesting.  I quilted it with randomly-spaced parallel lines that are 60 degree angles from the sides of the quilt.

And my first quilt label using this p.s. i quilt tutorial.

I used crazymomquilts tutorial but ended up using one less "coin" in each row so I could use the width of fabric for the sashing strips.  I hope my friend loves it as much as I do.

July 4, 2012

just three {July}

You would think doing a monthly blog post about your 3 quilting goals would be easy. I'm not quite sure what happened to the month of June but it flew by and I pretty much accomplished nothing. I think I forgot how busy summer gets--especially as my son get older and has more activities. (It's really hard to do any sewing whilst camping or sitting at the baseball field.) So you get a recap of my (lack of) progress on May's goals for Just Three @ traceyjay quilts.

For May:
  1. Make a quilt with my polka dot pinwheel blocks. I started putting my blocks together, but that's it.
  2. Sandwich, quilt and bind another quilt top that's been sitting in the pile for over a year. Um, no.
  3. Make at least one simple strip quilt top using fabrics from my stash. I'm making good on a goal to donate some blankets to Project Linus. I did finish this. It was a quick top to put together and looks so cute. And now it sits in my pile of unfinished quilt tops. :(
Blurry photo taken by my 5-year-old son.
June Goals:
  1. Finish my friend's stacked coins baby quilt. Her baby shower is this Saturday so I have to complete this one!  I worked on it a lot this week so I just have to finish the binding.
  2. Make my 8 quilt blocks for the Wish circle at do. Good Stitches. We are making postage stamp blocks from Rita's (Red Pepper Quilts) tutorial.
  3. Finish piecing my pinwheel blocks quilt top.
It's good to have goals but I try not to get too stressed out about them.  Even though I like to spend a lot of my free time sewing and quilting, it's good to have lots of family time, too.